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wolfbln 29-06-2017 11:52

New online registration in Germany
Just a reminder for everyone. From 1st of July a new online registration scheme will be enforced in Germany. The old system with just filling in a name and address on an online form proved to be too manipulative and corrupted by too many fake registrations. There were simply too many "Donald Ducks" in the system.:eek:

German prepaid brands will try different ways. The major operators can still be registered in their branded stores (where foreigners are often charged extra). The supermarket brands like AldiTalk and LidlConnect will use a video identification system now. There you will need to smile and flash your photo ID document (passport, national ID) over a cam and give a German address. Other ways are tried out too (by mail, fax, email etc....), but are quite time-consuming until your SIM will be actually activated.

There is a lot of discussion going on in the country whether this tightening of security laws really makes sense. Because of history Germans are much more critical about giving away certain surveillance rights to the state than in the US or UK, where SIM cards are still anonymous.

I updated this section for the prepaid data Wiki in detail.
Details for every brand are still unknown. So if you already have a German SIM you still want to register online, better do it before July 1st. This new law only concerns new registrations, not already existing (whether fake or not) subscriptions.

wolfbln 06-07-2017 21:03

Updates 06/07/17
A few days into the new regulations for prepaid registration, there is still lots of confusion, how and where to buy a prepaid starter in Germany.

Generally, it has got much harder for some foreigners to buy certain brands as they require Web ID oder Video Identification and not all passports from all nations are accepted.

So you might expect some problems activating a prepaid starter in Germany. As now a double verification scheme is required, it's not so instant like it used to be. It can take some hours to days until the SIM connects with the network.

A short survey about your options:
1.) the network operators do the activation in their shops. This may be the most convenient way for foreigners. Just go to a high street store. But Telekom can be very picky and sometimes likes to see a verified German address (instead of "any" address), Vodafone often applies an extra fee of €10 or a minimum balance of €55 - so O2 may be your best bet, but not the best network. The huge Mediamarkt and Saturn stores activate O2 too. But for all stores, you'll need to have bought the starter pack there.

2.) most brands or operators now do the Video ID through a video chat in which you have to show your passport. Again, not all nationalities can be registered this way. Vodafone has this list of countries: This applies to its resellers like Lidl Connect too. But for many resellers this remains the only option. Not coming from one of the mentioned countries, better stay away from them. O2 presumably uses this list here for their resellers like Aldi Talk: click on Nationaliät wählen and choose your country.

Activation through video ID takes some hours too and some unlucky users are waiting for days now. Once established, it may become a good system. You can also use it from abroad for pre-purchased SIM cards. But for now, it's not for everybody and can take quite a while.

3.) Post ID and other ID verification systems
There are other options like "Post ID" done in postal agencies showing your passport. But this takes some days too, as your information is sent by mail. For citizens of some countries it may be the only way, but you'll need a lot of patience.

4.) Ethno brands
The usual ethno providers have established some "activation points" in some of their reseller's stores. Lebara still sells pre-activated SIMs which is illegal and Lycamobile probably does so too. Once working, their registration system is probably not so picky about where you come from as these brands remain popular amongst immigrants. Both providers provide locators for these shops on their website.

So you have two issues coming as a foreigner to Germany right now:
1.) some passports (from out of the EU) are not accepted
2.) activation can take a while for everybody
We have to wait until this new system has been established to see whether they will persist.

Right now, most visitors will still be able to activate a SIM card in Germany. It's best to go to a branded store in a downtown shopping street or center or for the ethno brands to their small shops often run by migrants in the usual neighborhoods with your passport and (any) German street address in mind. Having a "rare" passport from overseas, expect some delays or shopping around to find any provider that is going to register you.

Giving this confusion you might think of bringing a SIM card from another EU/EEA country instead and using it at domestic rates under the new "Roam like at home". But be aware that not all EU providers have adopted RLaH so far (e.g. Lycamobile has not) and many restrict their use outside the home country to a certain limit or apply surcharges beyond.

wolfbln 03-08-2017 10:05

Just to follow up on this:
One month into the new regulations, there is still a mess and chaos about prepaid registration in Germany, especially what foreigners are concerned.

The government and the regulator stepped in and highlighted that foreigners will still be able to buy and register prepaid SIM cards, but in fact still face major obstacles.

One major problem is the "address". German nationals are registered at a residency with street address which is stated in the national ID cards. This system doesn't apply to foreigners of many nations and all passports (even German) doesn't state an address. Yet some providers seem to insist on this address. Vodafone and O2 mostly just take any German address that you might give to them like a hotel or B&B address, but Telekom often likes to see some official document stating this address.

The regulator has maintained the (missing) address must not be a reason not to be registered. But this news hasn't reached all providers yet. Furthermore, there are major problems with the videoID (also called webID or online ID). Due to high demand (as some brands can only be registered this way now), you have to wait online for hours to get an agent. That's why first brands start to register at the point of purchase, which is the only way that makes sense. On top of that the videoID companies are only able to register citizens from the EU and major overseas nations like the US, China, Russia etc. with their passports (or ID cards, if applicable). Other citizens like from Brazil or Thailand can't register these brands for now.

For the time being you can buy and register O2 and Vodafone in their branded stores and in the stores of some resellers like Saturn/MediaMarkt. These are the brands which are recommended for the least trouble. Telekom and Congstar can also be registered in T-Point stores, but some still want to see an official confirmation of your residency. The UK-based ethno provider Lebara steps in and has started a number of registration points in their resellers stores. They accept all nations and passports and resell the Telekom network cheaper (but only without LTE). Their direct competitor Lycamobile took 4 weeks (!) to register a SIM card and can't be a choice. Tchibo and Aldi Süd also register their own brands in their stores.

So what is a foreigner to do, if he/she wants a German prepaid SIM card???

1.) Before entering the country: We have "roam like at home" in the EU/EEA now. So if you come from another EU/EEA country, you might think of taking your SIM from there and use it roaming in Germany at the domestic rate.

2.) Online: There are "used" or "pre-activated" SIM cards offered on This market seems to be legal as the re-selling of old SIM cards is not illegal. Some dealers do it in higher quantities and then you'll risk being shut off, if detected by the operator. No further consequences are known for this trade.

3.) Already in the country: Try to get to the branded stores of the operators like O2 and Vodafone or resellers like MediaMarkt/Saturn and other chains. Don't buy the SIM where it can't be registered like in a gas station, supermarket or newspaper kiosk. A German shopping street or center still gives you a limited choice, but not every provider may be at your disposal. This is unfortunately true for the cheaper brands from Aldi, Lidl or online operators. As a last resort you can go to an area where a lot of non-EU immigrants live like Turkish living areas and to the small phone stores there run by immigrants. They'll often know a way too - whether legal or not - and probably for a small surcharge.

In Germany everybody is quite unhappy with the new law. The consumers are frustrated that they can't get registered, the operators have extra work and costs and can't deal with demand. And everybody wonders, if SIM card registration like this (skipping all old SIM cards in the age of roam like at home) really makes sense.

bylo 03-08-2017 14:51


Originally Posted by wolfbln (Post 49257)
And everybody wonders, if SIM card registration like this (skipping all old SIM cards in the age of roam like at home) really makes sense.

Like much of enhanced security at airports the new measures imposed by the German government won't stop the people who are determined to bypass them. They're just what security expert Bruce Schneier calls Security theater.

f300 22-09-2017 17:35

Yes, this is really ridiculous. You can still buy registered cards in all shady places near big train stations, you can order from other countries (heck, you can even buy 100 per-registered GERMAN cards on Ebay - multiple operators, offers, I've seen even larger offers as well - and yes, Ebay and paypal aren't anonymous but I'm sure it isn't rocket science to find the shop details and just show up at their doorstep with cash in hand).

If all fails just cross the border to Austria or CZ (maybe Poland and other countries too, but I don't know).

Apart from the last changes this joke has been going on since at least well BEFORE 9/11 (2001!). Maybe it's time to give up at some point.

svenn 03-09-2018 10:04

Or you could take an Englisch Simcard. So you don't Need to wast your time with German Simcards.

wolfbln 04-09-2018 09:28

Generally, you can use UK SIM cards at the domestic UK rate in Germany. That's right. But there are restrictions:
- EE: throttles all roaming traffic to 2 Mbit/s
- Three: confines all roaming to 2G/3G networks only, no LTE
- O2: applies a Fair Use Policy

And the offer you have linked looks like an old price table of giffgaff.
Updated prices:
Giffgaff applies a very tricky policy for roaming: you have to activate your SIM in the UK and have to use it first there. Otherwise, their domestic data packages are not applied for roaming, but the standard rate of 5p/MB which is much higher.

There are many catches involved bringing a SIM card from one EU or EEA country to another. That's why I recommend to check in the Prepaid Data Wiki about the specific roaming policy of the provider. Generally, we have "roam like at home" in the EU, but with some exceptions.

There are still a lot of countries that don't require mandatory registration in the EU: Ireland, Iceland, UK, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Czech Rep., Croatia, Slowenia, Portugal, Austria (until the end of the year). Others, are very swift with registration at the point of purchase like Poland, Italy, Spain or Switzerland.

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